Developmental education assessment and placement policies guide how students may demonstrate college readiness and are placed into college-level courses. States and postsecondary systems use a variety of measures to determine a student’s college readiness. Often, policies require that students submit scores from a national, standardized test. Some states and postsecondary systems allow students to submit additional evidence of their college readiness to supplement — or in lieu of — an assessment score. Assessment scores and other measures of college readiness determine whether a student is placed into college-level coursework or developmental education.
To provide a national perspective on developmental education assessment and placement policies, Education Commission of the States researched state-level and postsecondary system policies to create this comprehensive resource. Click on the questions below for a 50-State Comparison, showing how states and postsecondary systems approach these policies. Or view a specific state’s approach by going to the individual state profile.
- Is there a state or systemwide developmental education assessment and placement policy?
- Are approved assessment instruments identified? If so, which assessments are used or allowed? Are uniform cut scores identified? If so, what are the cut scores for these common assessments?
- Are multiple measures allowed to determine placement? If so, which measures are used or allowed?
- Are instructional methods addressed? If so, which methods are used or allowed?
- Does state statute include reporting requirements?
A state received a “yes” if its state or system policies address developmental education assessment and placement requirements. Depending on the unique higher education governance structure in each state, a state may have several policies included in this resource. System-level initiatives, programs and collaborations are excluded from this review.
- Thirty-one states have a state or systemwide assessment and placement policy.
- Twenty-two states have a uniform state or systemwide cut score policy.
- Nineteen states or systems allow for the use of multiple measures in placement decisions.
- Twenty-one states or systems have authorized the use of innovative developmental education instructional methods and interventions.
- Twenty states have created statutory developmental education reporting requirements.
Key Terms Used in this Resource
Developmental Education: Sometimes referred to as remedial education, developmental education aims to teach students knowledge they should have learned before enrolling in a postsecondary program. Developmental education is not adult basic education.
Cut Score: The cut scores presented in this resource are the lowest scores a student can receive on an assessment to be considered college-ready. Cut scores are often differentiated by subject area, generally English and math. Scores below the cut score indicate a need for developmental education in the subject area.
Multiple Measures: Additional evidence a student may present, beyond an assessment score, that can indicate college readiness. In this resource, the following categories are used:
- Other standardized and normed exams, or locally developed exams.
- High school academic performance (GPA, transcript, coursework).
- College academic performance (credit from a prior learning assessment, GPA, transcript, coursework).
- Noncognitive factors (motivation, attitude, emotions).
- Work experience.
Reporting Requirements: This resource reviews reporting requirements determined by state statute. In this resource, the following categories are used:
- Student populations (recent high school graduates, total number or percentage of students enrolled in developmental courses).
- Student characteristics (demographics, developmental education needs, college readiness, high school GPA).
- Student success (pass rates, graduation rates, successful completion of gateway courses).
- High school feedback data.
- Cost of developmental education.
- Current State Legislation: Postsecondary Developmental Education, 2017 through current legislative sessions. Filter for Issue Area “PS Developmental and Remedial Education”
- State Legislation: Postsecondary Developmental Education, 2016 and earlier
- Developmental Education: An Introduction for Policymakers, released in collaboration with the Center for the Analysis of Postsecondary Readiness.
PUBLISHED: December 10, 2018
RESOURCE TYPE: 50-State Comparison